Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said Monday that the government will study the possibility of Public Security Police (PSP) officers on duty in or around local casinos being equipped with pepper spray cans.
Wong made the remarks while speaking to reporters after attending a closed-door meeting of the legislature’s 1st Standing Committee, which is reviewing, article-by-article, a government-initiated bill on cybersecurity.
Wong’s remarks came after an incident in which a policeman fired a warning shot outside Galaxy Macau’s Diamond Lobby in Cotai shortly after 11 p.m. on Thursday after three male mainlanders kept attacking him after he had told them to stop smoking in the outdoor but high-ceilinged no-smoking area.
Wong said there were guidelines for police officers to use their gun and that all of them have undergone training for such a situation.
Wong said it was “no small matter” for local police officers to use their gun. He said that in last week’s incident the policeman had no choice but to fire the warning shot. He said that if police officers were to use their gun as seldom as possible, they would need to be equipped with other weapons.
Wong said that consequently he had told PSP Commissioner Leong Man Cheong to study the possibility for PSP officers on their duties in or around casinos to be equipped with pepper spray cans, with the aim of helping them avoid using their guns.
Wong noted that Judiciary Police (PJ) officers on duty in or around casinos started to be equipped with pepper spray cans seven or eight years ago.
Commenting on opinions raised in civil society that police officers should also be equipped with electric shock batons, Wong said that the police would need to assess whether it would be suitable for police officers to be equipped with such weapons. He said that as electric shock batons can cause major harm, it could result in a “big problem” if police officers improperly use such a weapon.
Wong pointed out that the police have not suspended the policeman in last week’s warning shot incident. He noted that the police have transferred him to office work from frontline duty merely in order to stabilise his emotions and take care of any possible changes in his mental condition.
Meanwhile, during the regular police press conference, a PSP spokesperson noted that PSP officers in some categories are already equipped with pepper spray, such as those in special patrol teams, the tourism police, and officers working at the city’s border checkpoints tasked with security checks.
The spokesperson said that the Public Security Police would gradually extend the deployment of pepper spray to other tasks by PSP officers.